As we learned in Vietnam, sometimes you have to destroy a city to save it. From Donatella Rovera and Benjamin Walsby at antiwar.com:
Driving around in Raqqa, it was easy to believe what a senior US military official said – that more artillery shells were launched into the Syrian city than anywhere else since the Viet Nam war.
There was destruction to be seen on virtually every street, in the heaps of rubble, bombed-out buildings and twisted metal carcasses of cars. There were also constant reminders of devastated civilian lives, in the broken possessions, scraps of clothing and grubby children’s toys scattered amongst the ruins.
Between 6 June and 17 October 2017, the US-led Coalition mounted an operation to “liberate” Raqqa from the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS). The Coalition claimed its precision air campaign allowed it to oust IS from Raqqa while causing very few civilian casualties, but our investigations have exposed gaping holes in this narrative.
Our new report, ‘War of annihilation’: Devastating Toll on Civilians, Raqqa – Syria, presents the evidence we collected over several weeks in Raqqa, investigating cases of civilians who paid the brutal price for what US Defense Secretary James Mattis promised to be a “war of annihilation” against IS.
Residents were trapped as fighting raged in Raqqa’s streets between IS militants and Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighters, supported by the Coalition’s air and artillery strikes. IS mined escape routes and shot at civilians trying to flee.
Hundreds of civilians were killed: some in their homes; some in the very places where they had sought refuge; and others as they tried to flee.
We investigated the cases of four Syrian families, who between them lost 90 relatives and neighbors almost all of them killed by Coalition air strikes.
In the case of the Badran family, 39 family members were killed in four separate Coalition air strikes as they ran from place to place inside the city, desperately seeking a way of avoiding rapidly shifting frontlines and coalition air bombardments over the course of several weeks.